FirstEnergy Celebrates Off-field Linemen

Cleveland may be abuzz with its acquisition of star quarterback Johnny Manziel in the NFL draft, but come this season FirstEnergy Corp. will be touting a different sort of team player: its own linemen. 

Tying in to its naming rights of the Browns’ stadium, the utility is launching a campaign likening the toughness and dedication of its line workers to that of the professional athletes on the field. 

“People don’t like their utility that much, especially when the power’s out,” Jim Sollisch, creative director at Marcus Thomas, the Cleveland agency behind the campaign, tells Marketing Daily. “We’re trying to remind them, there are people out there who are working together [to keep it going].”

The spot opens with men changing in a gritty locker room. As a voiceover speaks of the battle ahead, the men start putting on heavy equipment, including work gloves, tool belts, construction boots and safety harnesses. “Our games don’t begin with a coin flip. And they don’t end when the whistle blows,” says the voiceover. “Our opponents -- wind, rain, time and chance — are always present.” As the men — revealed to be the linemen maintaining FirstEnergy’s power grid -- step into a rainy night, the  voiceover concludes: “We’re fighting right now. A team of more than 9,000. And if you don’t notice us, that means we’re winning.”

Although it specifically addresses power outages (which seem to be more frequent in summer months), the spot is not timed to a specific season. Rather, it is intended to take advantage of the media availability that comes with an NFL team sponsorship, Sollisch says. 

The ad will run on local-market television into the summer, and then will appear on the stadium’s display screens, as well as on Browns football broadcasts. It will be supported by out-of-home executions as well, Sollisch says. 

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